Pet Emergency: Tips to Prepare for the Worst

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Originally posted: 09/29/2020, updated 05/06/2022

From losing power to evacuating safely, there are many pet emergency tips you should know before the wildfire season starts here in the Pacific Northwest.

FEMA established September as National Disaster Preparedness Month to ensure pet owners are prepared. Planning ahead of time for a pet emergency is essential to making sure you and your animals get out safely when you’re at an ‘evacuation 3,’ which means you have to leave your house.

We want to provide some local resources if you wish to donate to local organizations impacted by our recent wildfires. There are a few pet emergency tips on safely leaving with your cats or dogs. Do you know what to organize well in advance of a disaster?

What if your animal is stressed out on top of everything else? Pet owners should also brush up on some essential pet emergency tips to ensure their cats and dogs (and birds) are safe and healthy. It would help if you also considered taking a virtual class to refresh your skills. Dove Lewis offers these to the public.

If you need to evacuate your home, never leave your animal behind; here are some pet emergency tips:

  • Use a microchip or collar ID with up-to-date contact information
  • Know where to look for your pet if they’re afraid so that you can evacuate faster
  • Have a pet-friendly place in mind to go in case you have to leave your home
  • Carry a picture of your pet and you together in the event of separation
  • Build an emergency kit for your pet; here are details on what you should include
  • Take a pet carrier or crate with you for transport and safekeeping
  • Do you have a designated caregiver you can call? Have a list of 2-3 names and numbers in case you need help
  • Research the shelters that typically take pets during an emergency and have a list of those ready

Your pet emergency or first aid kitpet emergency tips

Do you know how to muzzle your dog with pantyhose? Here is a muzzle DIY training video for anyone hoping to learn this skill. These are essentials you should consider for your first aid kit.

  • Cone: the typical hard or soft cone for the car to ensure no licking
  • Pepcid
  • Benadryl
  • Vet Wrap and gauze
  • Some dog socks/boots
  • Soft muzzle

A kit for outdoor adventures or hiking with your dog typically includes:

  • For Ointments: triple antibiotic ointment; antiseptic wipes; alcohol swabs; 1 oz. hydrogen peroxide 3% to induce vomiting
  • A self-adhering elastic bandage; gloves; saline wound/eyewash
  • Includes a pet first aid manual and Wilderness & Travel Medicine
  • Survive Outdoors Longer (SOL) emergency blanket helps treat shock and hypothermia
  • The emergency cold pack helps reduce swelling of sprains and strains
  • 10cc irrigation syringe with 18-gauge effectively cleans wounds to help prevent infection; EMT Shears; 5 in. nylon leash
  • Splinter Picker/tick remover
  • Triangular bandage for a muzzle

Local resources for those displaced from wildfires

You should consider contacting these organizations if you’d like to help out in the future.

Five tips if a pet emergency occurs

This emergency may happen during a wildfire or at a separate time, but you should have some notes on “what’s normal” for your animal.

How often do you perform a nose to toes exam? What are some basic things you should know so you can stay calm if there is an emergency? Here are some baseline medical stats you should refer to:

  • Capillary Refill Time (CRT): Lift the lip of your best friend and quickly check the gums. When their gums are pressed, the pinkish color should return less than one second. If it doesn’t, look at the color – are they white, gray, or lavender – this indicates the blood isn’t circulating as it should be.
  • Mucous membranes: these should always be pink
  • The average temperature: 100-102 degrees F
  • Pulse at resting rate: Dogs 80-120 BPM
  • Respiratory Rate: Dogs: 15-30 breaths per minute

Five pet emergency tips from the American Red Cross

Pet owners should be familiar with all of these.

  1. Dehydration: Pull up on the skin between the shoulder blades. It should spring right back; if it stays in a tent position and doesn’t spring back, your animal is dehydrated.
  2. Pet poisoning: Signs include internal or external bleeding, dilated pupils, drooling or foaming at the mouth, seizures, or other abnormal mental state or behavior.
  3. Seizures: These can be scary, so make sure your animal is in a safe place, but do not restrain them as this can cause further harm. Keep your hands away from its mouth as your pet may not know who you are during a seizure and could bite you.
  4. Signs of heatstroke or heat exhaustion: Collapse; body temperature of 104 degrees F or above (see normal baseline above); bloody diarrhea or vomiting; excessive panting or difficulty breathing; increased heart rate; mucous membranes very red; and increased salivation. Note that normal mucous membranes are pink, as mentioned above.
  5. Your animal is bleeding: Apply direct pressure using gauze over the bleeding site. If blood soaks through, apply more gauze (do not remove soaked gauze) until you reach a veterinary hospital. By the time you’ve reached this tip, you should be thinking about the components of your first aid kit.

These are all beneficial parameters when doing a nose to toes exam and helpful to remember when your dog is ill or just isn’t doing right.

Resource: Red Cross Pet First Aid Emergencies come in all forms. Your dog could eat something poisonous while hiking or accidentally fall into a muddy pit with all our rain! These tips are invaluable! Please share these essential pet first aid tips with others. All of these scenarios can happen when you’re not expecting them!


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